IT Issues: Tackling the CIO Top Five
The role of the chief information officer is changing. No longer an arms-length position, CIOs are tasked with developing tech strategy, sourcing new IT staff and boosting the bottom line. So it’s no surprise CIOs are under stress: As noted by a recent McKinsey report, steadily rising expectations from the C-suite often put the role in conflict. Should CIOs prioritize streamlining IT functions or championing tech change? Add the challenge of recurring IT issues, and it’s no wonder CIOs struggle to meet their mandate. Here’s a look at the top five tech troubles and how IT leaders can cope.
But first things first: CIOs need to agree on what exactly constitutes an issue. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework helps, since it breaks out the difference between IT incidents — specific events that demand an immediate response — and problems at the source of multiple incidents. The word “issue” typically covers the entire landscape, and from a support services standpoint, issues can range from very simple (like individual workstation issues) to complex (like large-scale security problems). For CIOs, the easiest way to get a handle on IT issues is by starting with definitions: Describe the problem, identify the parameters, and design a solution.
1. Digital Change
According to a Gartner survey, just 40 percent of CIOs say they’re in charge of overseeing their company’s digital transformation, which includes everything from mobile deployments to cloud computing and data analytics. In some cases, CIOs are marginalized by other C-suite members or simply not given the tools and autonomy to complete the job, and there’s also the looming threat of massive IT issues. Digital solutions such as streaming video or VoIP services require significant network bandwidth and quality control, and many companies don’t have the existing infrastructure to support this change. To avoid digital disaster, CIOs need to take stock of existing resources and devise a plan to increase capacity.
Security is always a top CIO issue. Keeping the network secure in a digital and cloud-first world means recognizing the problem as systemic: Perimeter defenses and detection tools are no longer enough. And with CIOs expected to complete on-the-fly digital transitions while delivering business value, it often makes sense to leverage a managed security provider to handle top-priority concerns.
3. Internet of Things
According to CIO, companies are finally making the move to analytics solutions and platform enhancements that fully support Internet of Things (IoT) devices. But for CIOs, this presents a host of IT challenges, notably the high value of each connected device: If even one stops working, data loss becomes problematic. As a result, network mapping and monitoring tools become essential to detect issues before they happen and remediate IoT failures on the fly.
4. Legacy Gap
Every company has a few legacy applications still in use — they might be proprietary payroll apps or custom-built facilitation portals — and in some cases, it doesn’t make sense to move these apps to the cloud. Where legacy and cloud apps meet is a breeding ground for issues: Compatibility, usability, agility and even cybersecurity are all at risk, and as ZDNet points out, just one large-scale public hack could end the budding career of any CIO. The best bet is not to wait for problems to appear, and instead to test critical functions regularly at the edge of network stacks to evaluate ongoing risk.
As more companies move to the cloud, IT issues emerge. The biggest worry for CIOs? According to Healthcare IT News, it’s not security — it’s talent. With a growing cyberskills gap and a rapidly evolving cloud landscape, this makes sense: Without the right talent, organizations are at risk of IT failures. Long-term solutions include more effective in-house training and aggressive recruiting campaigns, while intelligent outsourcing can help address more immediate concerns.
CIOs face a daunting task: Satisfy the C-suite without losing sight of more tech-focused concerns. And while they won’t sleep easy any time soon, addressing these top five IT issues helps lay the groundwork for CIO success.